Online poker rooms and other gambling websites were buzzing today with reports that MasterCard was blocking transactions for placing bets – a move which took some by surprise since U.S. officials last year delayed the implementation of a new Internet gambling payment ban until June 1, 2010. However, there are still countries such as Indonesia where online casinos similar to Sbobet are still legal for those who are interested in enjoying them.
The gambling websites also pointed to a federal appeals court ruling on Monday as a possible impetus for the blocking.
The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a contempt order for refusing to comply with a grand-jury subpoena against two companies owned by a Canadian man, Douglas Rennick. He is accused of processing more than $350 million in payments for Internet gambling companies and faces conspiracy charges related to bank fraud and money laundering.
Another possible timing factor: The Super Bowl, which is this Sunday, represents one of the busiest online sports gambling weekends of the year. While online phone deposit casino services are widely popular all year round, Superbowl Weekend is one of those events that increase gambling even more than usual.
“The blocking of all deposits made by U.S. citizens linked to poker sites and online casinos will be imposed immediately as MasterCard starts to comply” with the gambling payment ban, wrote online-casinos.com today.
It is unclear whether MasterCard, or Visa – the top electronic payments processor – has taken any uniform action related to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The law has met with confusion and even resulted in the Federal Reserve and the Treasury extending the deadline for creating compliance guidelines until June.
Many members of Congress are seeking to revise the law that makes it a crime for financial institutions to process financial transactions that are used to place bets online.
The law has been criticized for not distinguishing between legal and illegal online gambling sites. Many states allow online betting on horse and dog racing. Some even allow the purchase of lottery tickets from designated websites.
The online casino sites say that both MasterCard and Visa regularly try to block transactions to their sites. But the site operators are able to remove code identifying the transactions before the card payment processor can take action.
Still, alternatives to “credit card deposits” are widely available at gambling sites, online-casinos.com said, including “electronic cheques” and other similar services.
“Instead of changing the codes again, it appears that online poker sites will continue their operations without MasterCard as a deposit option,” said CasinoGamblingWeb.com